9 December 2020
Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz and two associates are facing criminal charges in Switzerland for bribing to win a mining contract in Guinea. They are charged with foreign bribery and forgery. The bribe was paid to one of the wives of former Guinean President Lansana Conte to win mining rights for Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR).
Some of the bribes were paid through Geneva as Steinmetz was living there at that time. The other two defendants weren’t named. According to the Geneva prosecutor, the three defendants forged contacts and invoices to hide the bribe from the banks and the authorities.
BSGR relinquished its rights to the Simandou iron ore project earlier this year as part of a legal settlement of claims by Guinea’s government. According to this settlement the government agreed to drop all corruption charges against BSGR and Beny Steinmetz. BSGR filed for receivership in London in March 2018. Simandou is one of the world’s largest iron ore deposits.
Vale SA was a joint venture partner with Beny Steinmetz for the development of Simandou project. Vale won an arbitration award of $1.25 billion against BSGR after Guinea revoked the Simandou concession in 2014.
In the United States, Frederic Cilins, a French citizen, who once worked for BSGR was sentenced in 2014 to two years in prison for obstructing a U.S. investigation into Simandou bribery allegations.
reuters and bbc reported.